Optimistic about future prospects for the Barbados economy and with a drive to reach more Barbadians, officials of First Citizens (Barbados) have established another branch –– this time at The Walk Shopping Mall in Welches, St Thomas.
This brings to six the number of First Citizens Bank branches in Barbados. The Trinidadian-headquartered financial institution also operates in St Lucia, St Vincent and Costa Rica.
And although banking officials of that institution are not ready to disclose further expansion plans, they are promising more investment in the Barbados market.
Group chief executive officer Karen Dabarsie said the establishment of the latest branch was an indication of the confidence the bank had in the local economy. She said the fact the island had 16 weeks of foreign exchange reserves was “a welcome indication” the economy was improving.
“It is a little bit premature to talk about additional expansion, but what I would like to emphasize is that in a difficult climate where a lot of banks are closing branches, First Citizens is clearly committed to the Barbadian economy by opening a new branch. I think we have seen very encouraging signs of the economy shifting gears a little bit,” Dabarsie said.
“We have had two quarters of growth, which is also a very welcome sign for us. So I say we take comfort from the fact that we are committed to the Barbados community. We are demonstrating the commitment by the opening of this branch.
“We are looking forward to doing more, but the timing of that more will be determined as we see how things develop; and then we move from there,” she added.
The banker also explained she wanted to create a balance of having physical structures while encouraging more people to use the bank’s online platform, as First Citizens joined the world in moving towards more efficient mechanisms.
“Things are still in a transition, so there is a necessity to have a mixture of both,” she said.
Chief executive officer of the Barbados operation, Glyne Harrison, noted the Caribbean-based financial institution was “uniquely position to fully understand the financial needs of our Caribbean people and to provide for those needs”.
First Citizens Bank was established in Barbados three years ago, following the acquisition of Butterfield Bank (Barbados) Limited.
“Since we entered the Barbados market in 2012, we have been leveraging the stability, the leadership and the experience of the wider First Citizens Group to deliver value-added experiences to our local customers. The opening of this new branch is part of our continued commitment to doing so. Our product innovations since our entry into the local market have been well received,” Harrison stated.
“This drive and commitment to continually improve and bring additional value has now led us to expand our branching network.”
Harrison said the bank would continue to “roll out innovative services and personal retail banking products”.
“We look forward to introducing more innovation as we grow and expand in the local market. We are also pleased to be using our position as one of the leading banks in the region to continue to make significant social contributions through our corporate social responsibility,” he added.
And pointing to the bank’s investment in Barbados, Harrison said more was yet to come.
“Since we have entered the market we have made significant investment towards the cultural industries, education, youth and social welfare. We look forward to making even more investment as we continue to grow and expand our operations,” he said.
“I would like to publicly renew our commitment to the community to deliver quality financial solutions that complement individual lifestyles and foster financial growth,” he said.
The Welches, St Thomas branch will employ ten people. First Citizens also has branches in Broad Street and Collymore Rock in St Michael, and Worthing and Sargeant’s Village in Christ Church.